Smooth and rough roads to academic achievement: Retention and race/class disparities in high school


Journal Article

Educational and psychological researchers have long debated the relationship between retention and achievement. However, quantitative research on achievement trajectories has neglected this important variable. Given that retention policies are being institutionalized in schools, it is important to understand the relationship between retention and achievement trajectories. We examine the National Education Longitudinal Study, 1988-1992 to determine if reading and mathematical achievement trajectories for black, white, poor, and nonpoor high school students vary by their experiences with retention. Utilizing growth modeling, we illustrate that an awareness of students' past promotion patterns through school (i.e., experiences with retention) helps us better predict achievement trajectories. Moreover, by analyzing the cojoined effects of race and class, we reveal disparate costs of retention. In fact, we find that poor, white retained students are particularly disadvantaged by experiences with retention. We interpret this finding in light of recent cultural explanations of race and class educational disparities and the historical and institutional stratification processes from which they derive. © 2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Moller, S; Stearns, E; Blau, JR; Land, KC

Published Date

  • March 1, 2006

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 35 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 157 - 180

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0049-089X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.ssresearch.2004.08.001

Citation Source

  • Scopus